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Sun, Feb 04, 2007

Columbia Space Shuttle Tragedy Memorialized

Columbia Memorial Space Science and Learning Center To Be Built

The seven crew-members of the Columbia Space Shuttle who lost their lives four years ago, February 1, 2003, will be honored with a Space Science and Learning Center to be built in Downey, CA.

Both Houses of Congress passed a resolution in October 2004, naming Downey, CA, the home of the Columbia Memorial Space Science and Learning Center. The Center's building contract was awarded to Tower General Contractors, Los Angeles, CA.

On Columbia's 28th mission, STS-107, on February 1, 2003, the crew and vehicle were tragically lost during an uncontrolled re-entry.

Seven crew members lost their lives: Rick D. Husband, Commander; William C. McCool, Pilot; Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander; David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1; Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2; Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Mission Specialist 4; and Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist.

The City of Downey has been the site of aviation ingenuity and achievement since 1929, featuring large scale aircraft manufacturing, missile design and development, and ultimately, the design and production of the Apollo command and service modules during the lunar program and development and production of the Space Shuttle Orbiters.

"In 1999, when the Downey NASA Plant closed, the City of Downey began a redevelopment effort, including an educational component," said Rick Trejo, City of Downey mayor. "The construction of the Columbia Memorial Space Science and Learning Center is the culmination of our efforts to preserve Downey's 70-year legacy of aviation and aerospace history through space science education programs."

"The memorial will provide a way to extract something positive from the Columbia disaster," he added.

Funding partners, according to the Center's Web site include NASA, the City of Downey, and Financial Partners Credit Union. Program partners include NASA, NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Aerospace Legacy Foundation, Honeywell Challenger Learning Center at California State University, Dominquez Hills, and the City of Downey.

As well as honoring the memory of the Columbia Space Shuttle crew -- American heroes who died in service to their country -- the Center will serve as a tribute to the people who have worked in the aviation and aerospace industry in Downey over seven decades. Additionally, Center leaders have an educational mission of enhancing space science knowledge and scientific literacy.

"We are pleased to have been selected to construct this distinguished building, which memorializes those who gave their lives for the exploration of space," said Alex Guerrero, executive vice president of Tower General Contractors. "The Center will educate future generations about science and aerospace making it a living tribute to their memory, while educating the next generation of astronauts."

The 18,000-square foot facility, expected to be completed early next year, will include active student learning experiences in various aspects of aerospace, including:

  • The Challenger Learning Center, which will feature a simulated space mission that will test participants' decision-making skills.
  • A Space Science Discovery Zone where visitors will use interactive exhibits to explore principles of flight, living in space, the search for life beyond earth, and the origins of the universe.
  • The Mars Robotics Lab will allow visitors to design and program their own robots in order to complete a remote exploration mission to the planet Mars.
  • Historical displays will tell the story of the men and women who contributed to the spirit of invention and innovation that led to the development of the aviation and aerospace industry in Downey, Southern California, and propelled the US to a leadership role in space exploration.

The architecture for the Center reflects the aspiration and the ambitions of the astronauts and mankind traveling to space. It is a dynamic form propelling itself forward and upward, expressive of the confident optimism that drove a century of aviation and space exploration achievement. Arquitectonica is is providing the architecture and interior design for the facility.

FMI: www.columbiaspacescience.org, www.towergeneralcontractors.com

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